Republicans Angry About The White House Deal
Billy Tauzin, the former congressman from Louisiana, has announced he is stepping down as the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, PhRMA, the large drug lobbying group.
Anyone wanting to make about $2 million a year is encouraged to apply as a search for his successor will occur immediately. Tauzin will leave June 30.
The Wall Street Journal reports that House Republican leader John Boehner sent an angry letter to Tauzin complaining about the $80 billion deal the drug industry lobby struck with the White House last June and July.
Behind closed doors, PhRMA agreed to back the president’s health care reform plan and promised to save Americans $80 billion in the cost of drugs.
In exchange for covering the uninsured and reducing drug prices for senior citizens, the White House promised to block a congressional effort to negotiate Medicare drug prices, reports Slate. Critics believed the White House gave too many concessions to the industry.
A $150 million television campaign by the pharmaceutical industry supporting the Obama plans began running in August.
The profits generated by the drug industry have long been considered part of the problem of escalating costs.
Losing the influence of Tauzin who helped position the pharmaceutical industry behind health care reform, potentially represents one more setback to reforms following the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts to the seat once occupied by Ted Kennedy. That deprived Democrats of the 60-vote supermajority it needs to break a filibuster and push through reforms in the face of Republican opposition.
Politico.com reports that some of PhRMA’s board members thought that House members might try to undo the $80 billion deal, fearing it let the industry off too easy, and they didn’t have the confidence that Tauzin could hold it together. The Web site reports that pharmaceutical industry CEOs lost confidence in Tauzin a long time ago.
PhRMA and Tauzin issued a statement concerning the resignation:
“In January 2005, after a full year successfully battling a killer cancer, I was given a second chance at life, and appropriately chose to commit my next five years to the life-saving work of the people whose miracle medicines had just saved my own for the past five years, I have given my all to that effort at PhRMA, and believe we have made a significant difference together.”
Tauzin was a Democrat when he was elected to Congress in 1980. Even though he had switched parties in 1995, Tauzin filled many senior jobs with respected Democrats.
He also spent money on behalf of vulnerable Democratic lawmakers which paved the way for cooperative relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and Democrats during the health care reform debates. #